Creole Okra Gumbo

Creole Okra Gumbo
Tomatoes and okra are used to thicken this gumbo instead of the more common roux.Ingalls Photography

Most gumbos begin with a roux—a flavorful thickener made by cooking fat with flour. But there are as many ways to make a gumbo as there are cooks in Louisiana. Many versions of the dish, especially those of Creole origin, are made without a roux, including this recipe from The Picayune's Creole Cookbook, which uses a combination of tomatoes and okra as a thickener. While adding tomatoes to gumbo is heresy in many Cajun kitchens, Creole cooks are fans of the bright, sweet complexity they add to the dish—and so are we.

Creole Okra Gumbo
This classic Creole gumbo uses a combination of tomatoes and okra as a thickener instead of a roux.
Yield: serves 6-8

Ingredients

  • 4 Tbsp. lard or butter
  • One 3 1/2–4 lb. chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  • Kosher salt and cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 4 oz. tasso, minced
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 large yellow onion, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. minced flat-leaf parsley
  • 6 large vine-ripe tomatoes, peeled, cored, and minced
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1 lb. okra, trimmed and sliced 1/2 inch thick crosswise
  • Cooked white rice, for serving

Instructions

  1. In an 8-quart Dutch oven over medium-high, melt 2 tablespoons of the lard or butter. Season the chicken with salt and cayenne; cook, turning as needed, until browned, 10–15 minutes. Add the tasso; cook 5 minutes. Add the thyme, bay leaf, onion, and bell pepper; cook until golden, 10–12 minutes. Add the parsley and tomatoes; cook until tomatoes break down, 4–5 minutes. Add the stock; boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low; cook until the chicken is cooked through and the gumbo is slightly thickened, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons lard or butter. Add the okra and cook until golden brown and slightly crisp, 8–10 minutes, then stir into gumbo; cook 15 minutes more. Serve with rice.